2018 Nissan Leaf Review

The New 2018 Nissan Leaf Nissan Usa

Though the Nissan Leaf has received incremental changes over its lifetime, 2018 brings the most comprehensive rework of the car to date. The new car’s styling is a complete departure from the previous Leaf, although under the skin the cars are very similar aside from the larger battery capacity and additional power. For a detailed look at these changes, please see our 2018 Nissan Leaf First Drive article.

2018 Nissan Leaf Review

The Leaf hasn’t become more expensive in the bargain. In fact, the new car is actually less costly than the outgoing model when you factor in the differences in feature content. As such, it offers more range for the same price as other similar EVs, such as the Volkswagen e-Golf. Only the more expensive Chevrolet Bolt and Tesla Model 3 offer more driving range.

Other advantages to the 2018 Leaf include its new e-pedal mode and a new suite of advanced driver assist features called ProPilot Assist. The e-pedal delivers stronger regenerative braking when you lift off the accelerator, making it easier to slow the car appreciably without requiring you to apply the brake pedal.

On the downside, the Leaf’s interior isn’t particularly stylish, and the rear seats don’t fold completely flat, hurting utility. Overall, though, we think the 2018 Leaf is a great pick for an electric vehicle, especially if value is a priority.

what’s new on 2018 Nissan Leaf

For 2018, the Leaf receives a full redesign. Beyond the new styling, there’s a larger-capacity battery that delivers 150 miles of range, more power and enhanced driver assistance features.

we recommend buying 2018 Nissan Leaf

Since all trim levels of the Leaf offer the same performance and range, our recommendation is to get the base Leaf S and add the optional Charge package, which includes an additional port for Level 3 DC fast charging. By optioning the base trim level this way, the price works out to be less than a Leaf SV without options.

 trim levels & features

The 2018 Nissan Leaf is available in three trim levels: SSV and SL. As the lowest trim level, the S is a bit bare-bones, at least as electric mobility goes. But you can add the optional Charge package for quicker recharging. Otherwise, it’s still a very functional car since it comes with all the range and performance of the other trim levels. The SV adds the Charge package and navigation as standard, but it still doesn’t beat the S if value is paramount. The top-level SL adds leather seats, LED headlights, and a host of comfort features that might edge out the S for those folks who prefer a pampered electrified ride.

All three trim levels feature the same suspension and powertrain, and they differ mainly in infotainment, creature comforts and wheel choices.

Our choice, the S, comes with 16-inch steel wheels, a 110-kW electric motor (147 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque), keyless entry and start, a rearview camera, a 5-inch central display, Bluetooth, a USB port, and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and satellite radio. Forward collision warning and mitigation with automatic braking is also standard.

The optional Charge package includes a DC fast-charger port (CHAdeMO standard) and a portable charge cable capable of connecting to 120- and 240-volt sources.

The SV comes with the Charge package, 17-inch alloy wheels, a 7-inch touchscreen, navigation, adaptive cruise control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, and NissanConnect, Nissan’s web connectivity and remote-access system.

Optional for the SV is the SV Technology package. It adds a power-adjustable driver seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, LED headlights and running lights, automatic high beams, an electronic parking brake, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and intervention, and adaptive cruise control.

Also optional for the S and SV is an All Weather package with heated side mirrors, heated seats and steering wheel, and heat pump cabin heater (SV only).

As the top model, the SL adds the All Weather package and a few of the features from the SV’s Technology package (power driver seat, auto-dimming mirror, LED lighting, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert). Also standard are leather upholstery and a Bose seven-speaker sound system. Optional for this trim only is the SL Technology package that adds the remaining SV Technology features plus Nissan ProPilot Assist, which provides additional lane-keeping assist functionality.

2018 Nissan Leaf trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2018 Nissan Leaf SL (battery electric | 1-speed direct drive | FWD).


Overall 4.0 / 5.0  
Driving 4.0 / 5.0
Comfort 4.5 / 5.0
Interior 3.0 / 5.0
Utility 3.5 / 5.0
Technology 4.5 / 5.0

2018 Nissan Leaf driving

With its more powerful electric motor, the second-generation Nissan Leaf feels far more at home when jockeying for position in traffic than the original car, which was a bit of a slug. Its general smoothness, competent chassis demeanor and steering feel will be utterly familiar to Leaf veterans.

2018 Nissan Leaf acceleration

The original was a tortoise, but this second-gen Leaf is more of a hare. Acceleration is brisk, and it’s gutsy enough to hold its own in traffic. We can’t call it a speed demon, but our measured 0-60 mph acceleration time of 7.8 seconds is far better than the 10.2-second performance of the original.

2018 Nissan Leaf braking

The brakes feel smooth, but most routine braking can be handled by easing off the accelerator if you engage the fantastic new e-pedal mode, which adds control and a bit of fun to the daily drive. In our panic-stop test, the Leaf posted a stopping distance of 128 feet, which is average.

2018 Nissan Leaf steering

The steering isn’t particularly intuitive. It goes where it’s pointed, but the resistance doesn’t naturally increase to match the car’s turning.

2018 Nissan Leaf handling

The low-slung battery helps the Leaf hug the road, and it has the balance and coordination necessary to inspire confidence. But the Leaf’s economy-minded tires don’t produce enough grip to satisfy those who seek performance and an engaging driving experience.

2018 Nissan Leaf drivability

As with most EVs, smooth, instant power and a total absence of shifting make the Nissan Leaf ridiculously easy to drive. A good choice if you want to impress your passengers with your chauffeuring skills.

2018 Nissan Leaf comfort

It’s hard to find fault with the Leaf’s basic comfort. It delivers a smooth ride, and the front seats are genuinely comfortable. It’s a very quiet and serene place to spend time thanks to the inherent quietness of its electric propulsion system.

2018 Nissan Leaf seat comfort

We like the Leaf’s front seats. They’re well-shaped and supportive, yet they still have a nice level of give. They’re not overly confining, and they look as if they’re well made. Our test driver found them comfortable throughout a four-hour suburban test loop.

2018 Nissan Leaf ride comfort

The Leaf’s ride is smooth and nicely controlled — it’s neither too rigid nor too buoyant. It’s good at swallowing large and small bumps alike, but a little road texture feel and intermittent jiggliness do come through.

2018 Nissan Leaf noise & vibration

The Leaf’s electric drive components don’t make any noise and lack the commotion that a non-EV car make when it changes gears. Wind noise and road noise are the remaining potential noise sources, and neither is overly prominent.

2018 Nissan Leaf climate control

The climate control system is reasonably effective, and you don’t have to wait through an engine warm-up phase to get heat because of its electric nature. Liberal use will eat into your range, but this is less of an issue with this big battery. Use the seat heaters instead if you want to conserve.

2018 Nissan Leaf interior

Those who have owned a Leaf before will find this one familiar but improved. It features a traditionally located speedometer and improved radio controls. Seating spaciousness and ease of entry are strong points, but the driving position still suffers from the lack of a telescoping wheel.

2018 Nissan Leaf ease of use

Basic controls such as window switches and steering stalks are simple and effective. The infotainment system is straightforward, and even though the climate controls look dated, their use is self-evident. Our main gripe pertains to the shifter, which is so odd it includes its own user diagram.

2018 Nissan Leaf getting in/getting out

The long doors open wide, and the doorsills are pretty short. The seat height is good for ease of entry, and the roof isn’t so low that you have to duck. The rear door openings are generous, and the flattish roofline helps aid entry there, too.

2018 Nissan Leaf driving position

Some drivers might find it hard to settle into their ideal position. The driver’s seat is mounted somewhat high and may not adjust down far enough to suit the tallest pilots. But the bigger issue could be the nontelescopic steering wheel. The wheel can seem far away for some drivers.

2018 Nissan Leaf roominess

We found plenty of front and rear legroom, and headroom is generous as well. The Leaf’s cabin isn’t terribly wide, but it feels appropriate for its size.

2018 Nissan Leaf visibility

It’s easy to see out thanks to the generously sized windows. Cornering sight lines are aided by peekaboo windows ahead of the front windows, but the rear roof pillars produce a bigger blind spot. The bottom edge of the rear glass is nice and low.

2018 Nissan Leaf quality

The interior materials in the Nissan Leaf look a grade better than those of its predecessor and appropriate for the price point. The leather seats in the SL look downright handsome, in fact. Technically not a quality issue, the interior uses some carry-over elements that stand out.

2018 Nissan Leaf Release Date

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2018 Nissan Leaf Review | ivink3aray | 4.5